SUMNER, Wash. - - After an apartment building went up in flames in Sumner this morning, some of the residents are talking about how they got out just in the nick of time.
“Everybody was just panicking,” said Leonardo Hernandez, who lived in the apartment complex at 15018 Elm Street East for about two years.
Total chaos is how Leonardo Hernandez describes the fire this morning that left his family and his neighbors out in the cold.
Hernandez says he woke about 4am and smelled smoke. He jumped up to get his parents, grabbed his two dogs and headed for the front door but there was a wall of fire standing in the way.
“So we were all on the balcony and my mom was screaming out for help, waking up our neighbors. So all of our neighbors were in the back already. We had to jump off because there’s a little pathway in the back and we had jump onto that," Hernandez said.
He says they escaped with the clothes on their backs and they didn’t have on any shoes. Nearly two dozen people were also in the building but with little time to spare, someone’s precious pets were left behind.
“Two dogs of my neighbor’s on the bottom floor, they didn’t make it out. They passed away. It was pretty sad to see that. Everybody was just crying,” Hernandez said.
Sumner Police say the Red Cross has stepped in to help the families find temporary shelter and food. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Hernandez says he’s just glad he made it out alive.
“Right now I just thank God that I’m still here standing. It wasn’t my time yet. He was the one who probably woke me up on time and I just thank God for that,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez says he and many of the families are staying at the Sumner Mortar Motel for the next few days and if people wanted to donate clothes or food, they can make arrangements to drop the items off at the motel.